How to Shop at the Dollar Store

by Jessica Sommerfield · 1 comment

Dollar stores have earned a bad reputation in the past for poor-quality products and are often stereotypically viewed as the only option for lower-income families, with nothing to offer the more middle-class or upper class. Although this may still be true of small-town and closeout dollar stores, market research of the major dollar store chains such as Family Dollar, Dollar General, and Dollar Tree has revealed dramatic improvement in recent years. Dollar stores can no longer be overlooked as competition for supermarkets major retail chains.

The major dollar store chains have improved the selection and quality of their store-brand products as well as widened their base of main-stream brands at prices competitive with big-name retailers such as Wal-Mart. Many chains, such as Dollar General, don’t even offer close-out products, but purchase their inventory directly from manufacturers, eliminating any need for concerns about quality.

This being said, if you have avoided dollar stores in the past, you might want to give them another try. Here are some tips for saving the most and getting the most out of your dollar store visits.

  • Compare prices on name-brand products you love and find which items you can get as cheap or cheaper at the dollar store.  Dollar stores aren’t just great places for party supplies; you can find mainstream brands available for less. Market research has shown that dollar store prices on certain items can be just as cheap as they are at Wal-Mart. On the other hand, don’t take for granted that everything at the dollar store is cheaper than at the supermarket or major retail chain. Some items may be more expensive, by as much as several dollars! A smart shopper will pay attention to prices and know when they are looking at a deal and what to pass up.
  • Try store and off-brands. Many are just as good if not better than name brands. You may already buy off-brand papergoods, cleaning supplies, and toiletries, but have misgivings about non-perishable food items. Although you should still check dates, many store-brands are comparable in quality and flavor while delivering huge savings. Start off by trying a store-brand of an item you use a lot. If you don’t like it, at least you’re not out much money.  Off-brand food continues to carry the stigma of questionable quality, but those who can get past assumptions and actually try these products can take advantage of huge savings.
  • Major dollar stores such as Dollar General and Dollar Tree have websites which allow you to order online, get coupons, and stay aware of sales. Many dollar store chains only allow you to order in bulk, but this is a great way to stock up on items you use a lot of.  Dollar Tree allows you have items shipped to your local store which eliminates shipping costs, while others offer free shipping for orders over a particular dollar amount. Dollar store websites have many of the same features as those of major retailers, such as flyers, coupons and sales event listings, so you can save even more on their rock-bottom prices.

In a struggling economy, dollar stores have flourished and continue to rise as competitors in their own right. By shopping the dollar store wisely, you can save on many household products you already use and even more by experimenting with store brand merchandise.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Brittney October 26, 2012 at 7:31 am

“Try store and off-brands. Many are just as good if not better than name brands.”

This is true. My husband only likes the generic brand of spaghetti sauce. If I get Prego or Ragu he says the spaghetti tastes funny.

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